Discovering The Love Of A Pet

Discovering The Love Of A Pet

“Love is a four-legged word.”
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Anyone who has a pet knows what a big role they play in one’s life. This being said, when I was growing up, the only pets I had were turtles or fish, and I was perfectly content this way. I liked having pets that you did not have to directly interact with, and that you could take care of without having to entertain or show affection to. Although I loved every pet I had, I never really understood just how much you could love an animal and how much they could love you back, and what a great effect they could have on your life. This all changed my freshman year of high school, however, when my family and I had a very special visitor in our backyard.

It was September of 2011. As I was getting ready for school one morning, my mom told me to hurry downstairs because there was something she needed to show me. Once I got there, I followed her outside and looked down into our backyard to find a cat laying on one of the chairs outside our shed, looking like she was just relaxing. As the days went by, we saw the cat more and more often, until, one day, we looked outside our backdoor to see her sitting there, looking in at us. We went over to the door, and she began rubbing her head against the screen, wanting us to pet her. This was when we noticed something that we did not expect—she was declawed, so she probably someone’s pet.

A few days later, we took her to a vet to see if anyone had been looking for a lost cat, or if she had a chip to be able to see who she belonged to. From everything that they could possibly find, she did not belong to anyone, but she had obviously been a house cat at some point to have been declawed. At this point, we knew that we could not let her live outside, because she had no way to defend herself without claws. After a few more vet visits and a family discussion that was not too long, we ultimately decided to adopt her, having no idea at the time what a big impact she would have on our lives.

Juke, which we came to name her, became an incredibly large part of our family. She loved everyone she met, was gentle and sweet, and wanted nothing more than to eat, sleep, play with her strings, and snuggle. I truly believe that she was not like most other cats—I never once heard her growl or hiss, and she never went to bite anyone, ever. You really would have needed to meet her to understand, but we all thought of her as more of a person than a cat. It was not long at all before we could not imagine our lives before she came into them.

This past April, we had to make the indescribably tough decision to put Juke down after we discovered that she had lymphoma. In the four years that she was a part of our family, she showed us all the level of unconditional love that develops between people and their pets. We all truly believe that she came to us for a reason, and that there is nothing like the feeling that not only did we rescue her, but that she rescued and helped us, too. Even though we miss her, we are so thankful that she came to us, and chose us to love.

Now, after many months of talking about it, my family and I decided to adopt two kittens, whom we named Salvatore and Valentino. Though they are not biological brothers, the same cat raised them, and they do not know life without each other, so we could not even fathom separating them. While I can honestly say that I was reluctant at first to adopt new kittens, because I would always compare them to Juke in my mind, I am so glad we did. When you go to the shelters and see all the cats there looking for a home, it makes you want to adopt them all. Although choosing only two was hard, I think we picked the perfect ones.

We have only had Sal and Tino for about a month now, and we already are surprised we waited so long to choose to adopt again. We love them more than we could have thought possible. There is nothing like seeing them come running up to you because they are so happy to see you the second they see you get up in the morning and the second you get home at the end of the day. Even if they do something wrong, which they do quite often since they are only a few months old and are just learning, they immediately want to make it up to you by sitting on your lap or wanting to follow you around just to be with you. It is like they want to prove to you that love you even more than you love them, if that is even possible.

It is amazing the love that you develop for a pet, and, them for you. It is a feeling that is one-of-a kind and something that everyone should experience in one way or another. Until I experienced it for myself, I never could have thought that having my cats would mean so much to me. I know that Juke, Sal, and Tino are all everlasting members of my family that I truly love with all my heart. I cannot even believe that I had no interest in having cats at one time, because, now, I can wholeheartedly say that I do not know what I would do without them.

Cover Image Credit: Gianna Pisano

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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This Earth Day, Talk About Climate Change Instead Of Just Admiring The Flowers

Earth Day is about more than planting trees.

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I'm going to be honest with you: this article was hard for me to write. It took a heavy dose of reality and a lot of deep thought for me to form the right words regarding climate change. Climate change is a large and complex issue with many different sides and arguments. No matter what words people write or say, there will always be one person who will deny the scientific evidence of climate change. There will be people who will continue to believe that climate change is a conspiracy theory and others who simply believe that it is a thing the world should not be concerned about, that it is supposed to happen.

We need to talk more about climate change. I never realized how little I was educated about climate change until I got to college. During the first semester of my freshman year, I took a plant biology course. It's pretty customary that with biology comes talk of climate change. However, the talks we had in this course about climate change were like nothing I really ever have heard before. We talked about the overwhelming effects climate change has already had and will have on our planet if we do nothing. More importantly, though, we talked about what would happen to our planet if we took action and initiative to slow the effects. Our professor showed us the documentary "Before the Flood." This powerful piece highlights the causes of climate change, what initiatives are being put in place throughout the world, and what we need to do as a human race to slow the effects of climate change.

Not only did we talk about climate change in my biology class, but we also talked about it in my English class. In the past, issues with the Earth were only discussed in science classes like biology or geology. The fact that climate change is now a topic of discussion in humanity courses like English is something to make note of. It shows that we are coming to realize how we have been lacking as a society to discuss our changing climate and its consequences.

Some of the consequences are impending, and some are already occurring. According to the documentary I mentioned earlier, "Before the Flood," our world has already seen a 1.5 degrees Celcius increase in temperature because of carbon pollution. This may not seem like a big deal, but these few degrees have led to the ice caps melting at a rate that will make them disappear within the next decade. Along with this, sea levels have been rising three times faster than two decades previously. We have also seen the oceans becoming more acidic, likely to double over the next century, which means more and more marine life will be killed. The jet streams, which are the air patterns that typically drive where weather patterns will head, are becoming trapped, which leads to more polar vortexes and extreme weather. Going along with weather patterns, hurricanes are becoming more intense because of the warming ocean waters, and because there has been a 70 percent increase of downpours in the northern United States, rivers are more likely to flood. The opposite, however, is happening to some other rivers. There are rivers out in the Western part of the United States, like the Colorado River, that are disappearing because of droughts and increasing temperatures.

These are the effects we are already seeing just in the United States. In the future, we can expect to see even more droughts throughout the entire world, not just in the Sahara or deserts. Acute diseases, like asthma and allergies, will become deadly due to air quality worsening. Not to mention, diseases we haven't seen in centuries, like the bubonic plague, may resurface. Heat waves will become more prominent, which will lead to even more droughts. Access to food and water will likely decrease due to a third of the farmland that produces meats, vegetables, grains, etc. being dried out by the end of the century. The wildfires we are experiencing out in the Western United States are likely to become more uncontrollable, causing the government to spend more tax dollars toward fixing these natural disasters. Economic collapses, cities becoming flooded, wars and conflicts, species and ecosystems disappearing... the list of what we could encounter in the future goes on and on.

All of these effects seem terrifying, and they are. From what you just read, it may look like our world is doomed and that there is no hope, yet there is! By talking more openly about climate change, we can help slow or prevent these scary effects. To help our environment, we don't have to do big elaborate tasks. We can do little things, like recycling, walking or biking to a destination instead of driving, eating more chicken or turkey instead of beef, using less plastic, and/or taking shorter showers.

We haven't been talking enough about climate change, but that is changing. The effects of climate change are scary; it puts an idea in our head that makes it seem that there is no hope for our future. But because of conversation and discussion, there is hope for our world. The Paris Climate Agreement has had top leaders of various nations coming together and discussing solutions for climate change and for our planet.

Try to have more conversations with your friends, your family, or classmates about climate change. It may seem awkward to talk about climate change out of nowhere (and it kinda is), but try to incorporate it into discussions somehow. Encourage others to take cleaner practices to their daily routines and encourage them to keep the conversation going with people they know. Little things like talking to others can, and will, make all of the lasting difference for our world.

Make this Earth Day more than just a day where you look at the pretty trees and flowers. Make it a day where you work to save the pretty trees and flowers around you.

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